The leaden twilight weighs on the dry limbs of an old man walking towards Broadway. Round the Nedick's stand at the corner something clicks in his eyes. Broken doll in the ranks of varnished articulated dolls he plods up with drooping head into the seethe and throb into the furnace of beaded lettercut light. "I remember when it was all meadows," he grumbles to the little boy.
Louis EXPRESSO ASSOCIATION, the red letters on the placard jig before Stan's eyes. Annual Dance. Young men and girls going in. Two by two the elephant And the kangaroo. The boom and jangle of an orchestra seeping out through the swinging doors of the hall. Outside it is raining. One more river, O there's one more river to cross. He straightens the lapels of his coat, arranges his mouth soberly, pays two dollars and goes into a big resounding hall hung with red white and blue bunting. Reeling, so he leans for a while against the wall. One more river . . . The dancefloor full of jogging couples rolls like the deck of a ship. The bar is more stable. "Gus McNiel's here," everybody's saying "Good old Gus." Big hands slap broad backs, mouths roar black in red faces. Glasses rise and tip glinting, rise and tip in a dance. A husky beetfaced man with deepset eyes and curly hair limps through the bar leaning on a stick. "How's a boy Gus?"
"Yay dere's de chief."
"Good for old man McNiel come at last."
"Howde do Mr. McNiel?" The bar quiets down.
Gus McNiel waves his stick in the air. "Attaboy fellers, have a good time. . . . Burke ole man set the company up to a drink on me." "Dere's Father Mulvaney wid him too. Good for Father Mulvaney. . . . He's a prince that feller is."